New Nakba: Leaked Documents Disclose Plans To Force Palestinians From Gaza Into Egypt

Israel downplays the proposal as a hypothetical exercise in a 'concept paper', even as it runs ads seeking to garner public support for its campaign far beyond its borders

New Nakba: Leaked Documents Disclose Plans To Force Palestinians From Gaza Into Egypt

A leaked document from the Israeli military has disclosed plans to drive Palestinians from the narrow Gaza Strip and into the Sinai peninsula controlled by Egypt, essentially annexing the territory.

Israel, however, downplayed the document as a hypothetical exercise suggested in a 'concept note' compiled by Israeli intelligence.

The document carries the date of October 13, six days after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that spoofed its much-vaunted Iron Dome system while taking Israeli security forces completely off guard. The ensuing violence reportedly resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 people in southern Israel. Hamas also took over 240 hostages in hopes of exchanging them for prisoners and liberties over essential amenities such as electricity, water, food and medicines. 

However, Israel reacted by launching a heavy blitz on Gaza, pounding the small territory with bombs with the combined destructive power of more than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima by American forces during World War II. Thus far, the Palestinian Health Ministry says over 8,000 Palestinians have been killed not just in Gaza but in the West Bank as well - where Hamas does not exist. Of the fatalities, some 3,500 are children.

A local news site first published the military document, Sicha Mekomit. Wikileaks later verified it, the Julian Assange-led organisation which was responsible for leaking classified documents which exposed American military practices in Iraq and elsewhere.

The document suggested that it was the Israeli Intelligence Ministry - a junior ministry responsible for research but not set policies - had offered multiple options to tackle Hamas and Gaza in the aftermath of the October 7 attack.

The option most preferred by the report's authors was "a significant change in the civilian reality in the Gaza Strip in light of the Hamas crimes that led to the Sword of Iron War."

It would see Gaza's Palestinian population pushed into the Sinai peninsula - most of which is desert. The displaced Palestinians would then be prevented from entering Israel altogether, indicating that the expulsion would be irreversible.

It followed a similar suggestion made by former Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon during a television show on October 15, two days after the date carried on the leaked document.

In the television interview, Aylon openly suggested that Palestinians in Gaza who had been ordered to evacuate could cross into northern Sinai on the Egyptian side to live in temporary tent cities to seek refuge from the Israeli aerial bombing campaign and the impending ground incursion.

Aylon was severely criticised for the interview, with critics claiming that the suggestion was tantamount to calling for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza. 

Aylon, however, tempered his suggestion by stating that the civilian evacuation of Gaza would be temporary to allow Israeli forces to freely operate against Hamas and that the displaced Palestinians would be allowed back into Gaza. But the strategy paper makes no such promises.

Red line

The Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the plan, noting that the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza was a "red line" that they would not allow to be crossed.

"We are against transfer to any place, in any form," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"What happened in 1948 [Nakba - the great tragedy which saw over 750,000 Palestinians displaced] will not be allowed to happen again."

Egypt silence

Egypt, which has been asked throughout the ongoing campaign why it was keeping its border with Gaza at the Rafah crossing shut, has denied past suggestions of taking on Palestinian residents of Gaza as refugees.

On the continued border closure, Egypt has maintained that it was not due to their efforts. Rather, Israel has continuously bombed the border whenever it was opened to allow aid trucks across until Israel and the US agreed on a mechanism to allow aid through.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi has warned that forcing Palestinians out of Gaza completely would only start a new war.

Yellow star returns amid new ad campaign

At the United Nations on Monday, Israel's Permanent Representative Gilad Erdan, in a profound move, rose during the debate and pinned a Yellow Star on his chest, which read: "Never Again".

Erdan stated that the symbol, which personifies the Holocaust and the genocide of Jews under Adolf Hitler's Nazi-Germany in World War II, would seek to remind members of the United Nations Security Council "what staying silent in the face of evil means". 

He denounced the UN Security Council for failing to adopt a single resolution on the latest flash in the long-standing conflict. Four draft resolutions have failed at the council, with divisions running deep. What Erdan did not mention was that some of the drafts calling for a ceasefire and for humanitarian aid to be dispatched were blocked by Israel's ally, the US, because they did not speak about Israel's right to defend itself. 

Russia and China halted drafts presented by the US because it failed to call for a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities by all sides.

Erdan said that he and his team will continue to wear the stars until Hamas is condemned for its atrocities.

However, Erdan was swiftly denounced by an unlikely source, the Yad Vashem -- the Israeli Holocaust Memorial.

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan posted on social media in Hebrew that Erdan's act "disgraces the victims of the Holocaust as well as the state of Israel".

He went on to note that the star represented the helplessness of the Jewish people in the face of an overwhelming force. But today, they have an independent state and a strong army.

"We are the masters of our fate," he said, urging Erdan to pin the Israeli flag instead.

Meanwhile, an advertisement campaign is being run in Europe where the ads seemingly start as if they are meant for very young children with colourful unicorns and ponies dancing between rainbows before putting up a disturbing message of "40 infants were murdered in Israel" and "#HamasIsIsis". The message also chillingly stated that it was aimed not at the children but their parents because they could read it while they were with their children.

Other advertisements on Israeli foreign ministry sites and social media channels contained gruesome images of unidentified burnt bodies, bereaved families claimed to be Israeli victims of Hamas actions, and slickly edited montage of screams, ambulances, rescue workers and pathologists scrambling.

The advertisement was also run across Alphabet-owned YouTube and on the Meta-owned platform.

The ad was primarily targeted towards France, the home to one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel, followed by Germany.

Digital marketing firms estimated that Israel had spent around $8.5 million to ensure it reached as many screens as possible.

Anti-semitism in France

In France, there were reports that dozens of Star of Davids were painted outside several buildings in Paris and its suburbs over what authorities see as a spillover of the incidents in the Middle East.

The stars, symbols of Israel, appeared outside several buildings overnight. Similar incidents were reported across France. In some instances, the slogan "Palestine will overcome" was also painted.

The Union of Jewish Students of France deemed the painting of the stars an attack which harkened to how Jews were designated publicly under Nazi rule.

France has launched a probe into the acts.

Israel does not care for hostages?

Meanwhile, Hamas released a video of three hostages who questioned the will of Tel Aviv to rescue them, as families of hostages staged a protest against the Israeli government for doing little to secure their release.

The video showed three women hostages who stated that Hamas wanted to exchange them for the release of Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli jails.

Meanwhile, Hamas has released a female soldier whom they had taken hostage.